BIRD OF THE WEEK: 11/28/2014 SCIENTIFIC NAME: Coccyzus rufigularis
POPULATION: 1,500 – 7,000 adults
IUCN STATUS: Endangered
TREND: Declining
HABITAT: Lowland forests in Hispaniola, now found only in the Dominican Republic

Bay-breasted Cuckoo map, NatureServeThis cuckoo species, found only in the Dominican Republic, is nicknamed “Cúa” after its most distinctive call. Like other cuckoo species, it is a skulker and can be very hard to find in the tree canopy, where it is most easily located by sound. (Read about Andrew Rothman's quest to find the Cúa in ABC's blog.)

The Bay-breasted Cuckoo occurs in four protected areas in the Dominican Republic, with its stronghold likely the Loma Charco Azul Reserve, which it shares with other endangered birds including Hispaniolan Trogon, Black-capped Petrel, and Bicknell's Thrush. It's also found in Sierra de Bahoruco, Sierra de Neiba, and Nalga de Maco national parks.

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Bay-breasted Cuckoo chicks, J. SinclairThe Bay-breasted Cuckoo feeds primarily on lizards and insects, and its short nesting season appears to coincide with the onset of the wet season and the abundance of insects, particularly cicadas.

This cuckoo has suffered a drastic decline in range and numbers due to unchecked deforestation for agriculture, grazing, and charcoal production. Unfortunately, inadequate protected area enforcement has allowed continued deforestation of its habitat—although the situation is starting to improve.

ABC and partners Sociedad Ornitológica de la Hispaniola (SOH), Grupo Jaragua, and others continue work to preserve and protect habitat in the Dominican Republic. ABC has helped improve habitat protection in Sierra de Bahoruco National Park and the Loma Charco Azul Reserve, where Black-capped Petrels are nesting and are being tracked via satellite.

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